On Thursday 7 May 2015, the SADC Mediation Reference Group (MRG) held their constitutive meeting at Phakalane Golf Estate Hotel Resort, in Gaborone, Botswana. This was the first statutory meeting of the MRG since its members were appointed during the Summit held in Victoria Falls, Republic of Zimbabwe in August 2014.
The MRG is part of the SADC Mediation, Conflict Prevention and Preventive Diplomacy Structure, which also comprises the Panel of Elders (PoE) and the Mediation Support Unit.
Out of the nine MRG members, seven members were in attendance, namely:
At the meeting, Dr Leonardo Simão was appointed the Chairperson of the MRG, whilst Ms Olivia Mchaju Liwewe was appointed the Deputy Chairperson. In addition to the appointment of office-bearers, the meeting also considered and approved the MRG's Strategic Plan and Work Plan covering the period 2015 to 2017.
The MRG also had an opportunity to interact with the Executive Secretary, who hosted a dinner in their honour. At the dinner, the Executive Secretary expressed appreciation to the MRG members for availing their time and resources to serve the Region and further affirmed the SADC Secretariat's readiness to support and assist the MRG in fulfilling their mandate and contributing to regional political stability and peaceful resolution of conflicts. Finally, the ES also used the occasion to hand each MRG member, their letter of appointment to the MRG for a tenure of 4 years.
The next MRG meeting is scheduled for November 2015.
Photograph (top): Members of the MRG, together with SADC Secretariat staff at the meeting
Photograph (above): ES handing MRG Deputy Chairperson, Ms Olivia Mchaju Liwewe